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October had the most rainy days but not the most rain

October 31, 2016
Rain-dropped plastic coat of a "lost cat" poster in a Mount Pleasant back alley.

Rain drops on the plastic coat of a “lost cat” poster found in a Mount Pleasant alley.

Today’s wet Halloween means that (by my count, at least) October 2016 in Vancouver, B.C., has had no less than 27 days of precipitation, washing away the old record of 26 days of rain, reportedly set in October of 1967 and 1985.

However, the most rainy days doesn’t equal the most rainy October ever—not here in Vancouver, British Columbia, at least.

That Songda was a hit record just over the border

In that other city of Vancouver—the one located on the south side of the U.S. border in Washington state—all-time October rainfall records were broken or tied with four days to go in the month. As of the Thursday, October 27th, according to the Columbian, Vancouver, Washington, recorded 195 mm of rain, beating October 1997’s total of 186.94 mm and the city tied the 2005 record of 25 rainy days in October.

And as of Saturday, October 29th, nearby Seattle, Washington, had reportedly received 230.12 mm for the month, breaking the previous October record of 227.58 mm, set in 2003.

According to Washington state radio station Q13, October rainfall across Western Washington has been about double the average, with much of the credit for the increase going to the remnants of Super Typhoon Songda, which blew through the U.S. Pacific Northwest and through British Columbia on October 13.

Speaking about the October 2016 rainfall, Q13’s Meteorologist Walter Kelley said:

“I remember the last record-breaking October. It was back in 2003. In one day, we had five inches (127 mm) of rain in Seattle. I didn’t think we could beat those numbers back then—but here we are.”

Feels like we’re getting more rain but “feels” are deceiving

October rainfall in Vancouver B.C. has actually decreased slightly over 16 years.

October rainfall in Vancouver B.C. has actually decreased slightly over 16 years.

Here in Vancouver, B.C., October 2003 was also a record month for rainfall. But compared to Seattle’s piddling amount, that year in October we fairly bathed in the wet stuff, with fully 336.8 mm of precipitation.

This year, according to the Weather Channel’s historical weather database, October only saw 206.2 mm of rain up to and including the 30th—so even adding the rainfall of the 31st there’s no way we’ll top 2003.

Funny thing about 2003; October’s huge rainfall came after one of the driest summers on record, which saw Metro Vancouver introduce Stage 3 watering restrictions for the first time (but not the last—we reached Stage 3 in 2015).

Another funny thing is that when you chart Vancouver’s October rainfall over the last 16 years, it’s not increasing year-by-year as you might think—it’s slightly, but clearly, trending down.

Whad’ya think about that? Click the images to enlarge them.

From → Lower Mainland, rain

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